Week 5 is usually the most popular week of the six week HITS Indio Desert Circuit, and this year was no exception. Competition was keen, and many riders are vying for prestigious circuit championships. At the start of Week 5, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson had the lead for the Golden Horse sponsored Circuit Grand Prix Rider title. Her win on Friday increased her lead. John Pearce is in second, followed by Duncan McFarlane and Ray Texel.
Earlier in the week, Peter Pletcher rode Little Blue, an entry of Gray Wolf Farm, to the championship in the Green Conformation Hunters. Sue Lightner's Tiger was reserve champion. In the Amateur Owner Hunters 18-35, it was a case of doubles. Eva Gonda and Doubletake earned the championship, with Lesley Bulechek and her Double Play taking the reserve championship.
Yvette Lang-Einczig also had a double. For the second week in a row she was the Amateur Equitation 36-50 Champion and looks to be vying for a mid-Circuit championship. Stephanie Gerich was the reserve champion and earned ribbons in all of her Adult Amateur Hunter classes. Although Gerich lives in Sacramento, CA with her husband, the pair enjoy spending the winter in the desert. "The weather is great and I can do my two favorite things, play golf and show my horse!" said Gerich.
Andrew Ramsay earned his share of tri-colors. He won both sections of the Junior Hunters this week. L'Azure was champion in the Small Junior Hunters 16-17 and January's Best was champion in the Large Junior Hunters 16-17. Ramsay then led the victory gallop in the $10,000 Junior-Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic aboard Nighty.
In the top junior medal classes, Erin Chiamulon got the nod in the USET Talent Search, and Matthew Sereni won the Washington International. Tess Albrecht showed her style by winning the Pony Jumper Style award with Eloise.
The HITS Indio Desert Circuit concludes next week with the $150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert and presentations of the Circuit Champions and other special awards.